MIT engineers have developed a cheap, compact robotic fish that can go where no man (or underwater vehicle) has been able to go before. The pint-sized robofish, developed by Kamal Youcuf-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia y Alvarado, could potentially be used to detect underwater environmental pollutants and inspect submerged boats and oil and gas pipes. Another plus is that they don’t smell. Toumi and Valdivida y Alvarado’s fish is less than a foot long, contains only 10 parts, and has a single motor. Since the new fish uses fewer parts, it’s cheaper to build. And that means there is minimal risk if a robofish gets stuck or destroyed in an underwater structure.
The robofish require 2.5 to 5 watts of power from an external source, but scientists hope that one day the fish could be powered with an external battery. Next up for the robot masterminds at MIT: building robotic salamanders and manta rays. (Ariel Schwartz)
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